Eighteen metres or not, the Wimbers screen, as previously stated, won’t be showing the World Cup. The Diary left the All-England Club on Tuesday night right after the award of the 57th-minute penalty to the Three Lions in the game against Colombia – it had socks to wash back at the hotel – and the big telly was flashing up images from around the courts of the last remaining doubles matches. Defiant to the end, it did a sweep of Henman Hill with an unfortunate close-up of a tennis fan picking his nose. Or perhaps he was turning it up at the football.
But it’s going to be fascinating and possibly fraught on Saturday when the England team play their next match. That’s the day in the Wimbledon calendar when the celebs pack into the Royal Box on Centre Court. There are always plenty of sporty types and lots of footballers but – and you have to admire SW19 officialdom for this – they won’t be able to sneak back to hospitality to check the score because the blackout will be total.
Yesterday after their matches just about every tennis player was pressed for a World Cup soundbite. Never mind their form, their scintillating groundstrokes, who did they want to win?
France’s Gael Monfils said if he gets to the final in his tournament and Les Bleus do likewise – both showdowns are scheduled for the same Sunday – he’d withdraw. “I’d be the first player to walk over to see the World Cup,” he said with a chuckle. Were this to happen the Diary would be worried. There’s probably something in the Wimbledon rulebook which would allow England to then declare war on the blaggard’s homeland. “You know, let me play Friday,” Monfils added.
Monfils’ countryman Lucas Pouille claimed that if France got to the final he’d watch that over whoever was playing at Wimbledon. Well, I bet he wouldn’t be saying that if it was to be the dream final: Henry VIII vs Dan Maskell.
The American Madison Keys – a favourite of the Diary – revealed she watched the Colombia game with English rose Laura Robson who got more than a bit excited. “She was singing the ‘It’s coming home’ song consistently like for two and a half hours,” Keys sighed.
The last word of the dreaded subject – at least until tomorrow – goes to Venus Williams: “I haven’t seen the World Cup. I don’t have time to watch TV.”
As Roger Federer swished his way to a second-round victory the Diary tried to bathe in some reflected glory. It had just lunched with the man who’d beaten the man who used to beat The Fed for fun.
Six times in their first seven meetings Tim Henman came out on top. Maybe if he’d grabbed that seventh, too, Tiger Tim would have been allowed to keep Federer. But before then Henman had met his match in Blane Dodds, CEO of Tennis Scotland. “It was so long ago,” Blane told the Diary. “Maybe the late 1980s and maybe down in Worthing but it was a county match, Tim playing for Oxfordshire and me with West of Scotland. I can’t claim I beat him by myself – it was doubles – but we’d been told beforehand about this highly promising 16-year-old and even then he had all the shots.”
The lunch, though the Diary knows you don’t care, was splendid. The only downside was spotting a fellow from school, a twit in those days, who’s obviously flourished since and looked like he owned the joint.